Skip to comments.Iranian Alert - November 8, 2004 [EST]- IRAN LIVE THREAD - "Americans for Regime Change in Iran"
Posted on 11/07/2004 9:01:23 PM PST by DoctorZIn
The US media still largely ignores news regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran. As Tony Snow of the Fox News Network has put it, this is probably the most under-reported news story of the year. As a result, most Americans are unaware that the Islamic Republic of Iran is NOT supported by the masses of Iranians today. Modern Iranians are among the most pro-American in the Middle East. In fact they were one of the first countries to have spontaneous candlelight vigils after the 911 tragedy (see photo).
There is a popular revolt against the Iranian regime brewing in Iran today. I began these daily threads June 10th 2003. On that date Iranians once again began taking to the streets to express their desire for a regime change. Today in Iran, most want to replace the regime with a secular democracy.
The regime is working hard to keep the news about the protest movement in Iran from being reported. Unfortunately, the regime has successfully prohibited western news reporters from covering the demonstrations. The voices of discontent within Iran are sometime murdered, more often imprisoned. Still the people continue to take to the streets to demonstrate against the regime.
In support of this revolt, Iranians in America have been broadcasting news stories by satellite into Iran. This 21st century news link has greatly encouraged these protests. The regime has been attempting to jam the signals, and locate the satellite dishes. Still the people violate the law and listen to these broadcasts. Iranians also use the Internet and the regime attempts to block their access to news against the regime. In spite of this, many Iranians inside of Iran read these posts daily to keep informed of the events in their own country.
This daily thread contains nearly all of the English news reports on Iran. It is thorough. If you follow this thread you will witness, I believe, the transformation of a nation. This daily thread provides a central place where those interested in the events in Iran can find the best news and commentary. The news stories and commentary will from time to time include material from the regime itself. But if you read the post you will discover for yourself, the real story of what is occurring in Iran and its effects on the war on terror.
I am not of Iranian heritage. I am an American committed to supporting the efforts of those in Iran seeking to replace their government with a secular democracy. I am in contact with leaders of the Iranian community here in the United States and in Iran itself.
If you read the daily posts you will gain a better understanding of the US war on terrorism, the Middle East and why we need to support a change of regime in Iran. Feel free to ask your questions and post news stories you discover in the weeks to come.
If all goes well Iran will be free soon and I am convinced become a major ally in the war on terrorism. The regime will fall. Iran will be free. It is just a matter of time.
JEDDAH/BAGHDAD, 7 November 2004 While the Bush administration routinely accused Iran of helping insurgents in Iraq, the real battle between Washington and Tehran over who will control Baghdad is taking place in the political arena. Both Iran and the United States are spending vast sums of money and exerting growing pressure on Iraqi political parties likely to do well in the projected elections.
The Bush administration began working behind the scenes as early as last July to coax its Iraqi allies into a coalition that could dominate elections scheduled for January.
US authorities in Washington and Iraqi politicians confirmed that top White House officials have told leaders of the six major parties that were on the US-appointed Iraqi Governing Council that it would be in the groups common interest to present a unified electoral slate.
The US effort to influence the parliamentary elections is highly sensitive, coming at a time when President Bush daily expresses his desire to bring liberty and democracy to a nation that for decades has known only authoritarian rule. But the White House move stems from concerns that neighboring Iran is using its money and influence to try to sway the elections in its favor.
US authorities disagree on the extent of Iranian efforts to influence the elections, but senior officials remain concerned about pro-Iranian candidates.
One US official in Washington said the administration now believes Iraq needs a negotiated resolution a scaled-back democratic process.
Between the two conflicting key goals, I see the arguments for stability now outweighing the calls for democracy, said the official, who declined to be identified. The formation of a unified slate would further entrench the US-allied parties, which are mostly led by longtime exiles with dubious popular support and are still viewed with suspicion by many Iraqi citizens.
The six parties are the Iraqi National Accord, led by interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi; the Iraqi National Congress, led by former Pentagon favorite Ahmad Chalabi; two Shiite Muslim parties, Dawa, and the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq; and two Kurdish parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.
US officials hope that by fighting on a common slate in the January elections, the six parties would dominate at the expense of the dozens of independent parties that are expected to field candidates. They also hope that the two Shiite parties will draw votes that might otherwise go to groups with closer links to Iran, a theocratic republic where Shiites also are the majority.
There are some wild cards, including radical Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr, who launched several bloody anti-US uprisings. Sadr, widely suspected of receiving Iranian assistance, has disarmed his Al Mahdi militia, and said he will participate in elections.
The planned elections, hailed as a major step toward a new Iraq, are for a 275-member assembly that will write a new constitution. Voters will choose parties or alliances, not individuals, and the winners will be awarded seats based on the proportion of the vote they receive.
Electoral experts predict that to win a single parliamentary seat, a slate will need about 27,000 votes. With Iraqs political landscape fractured among more than 150 parties, election specialists believe that even those independents that manage to gain a few seats may have little influence.
Some Iraqi politicians from other parties say that such a strong coalition would establish a new foreign-backed ruling class and short-circuit their hopes for a more open political environment.
Were afraid these parties will become six dictators, said Jawad Obeidi, secretary-general of the independent Iraqi Democratic Congress. He predicted that most Iraqi voters would stay home if they suspected the process was producing no more than a copy of the Governing Council.
Senior White House officials say they believe that the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution and the Dawa Party can give Iraqs Shiite majority the representation it expects, while screening out candidates with uncomfortably close ties to Iran.
At the same time, some US officials and outside experts acknowledge that the six parties have yet to win the respect of many Iraqis. Many view their members as outsiders who sat out the Saddam Hussein years in exile before returning with foreign backing to take control.
The six parties are in negotiations on forming the slate. Officials differ on the likelihood of a coalition being forged, because it would require a power-sharing agreement that inevitably would leave some with less influence.
Hani Idris, head of political affairs for Allawis Iraqi National Accord, said it was equally likely that more modest alliances would emerge such as between the two Shiite parties or his party with the two Kurdish parties.
Of course, if the big parties ally, they would dominate, Idris said. But Im not saying there would be no space for the small parties.
Several rules for the upcoming election were written to give independents a chance. Individual candidates can register themselves as a political entity by gathering 5,000 signatures and essentially present a party slate of one name.
Even if the top six parties do not unite, many observers expect they will be able to use their superior organization and insider status to remain the dominant force in Iraqi politics. There are groups who will be left out. Thats what happens in elections, says a Western diplomat in Baghdad. The beauty is, they can learn from their mistakes and come back a year later and try again.
Obeidi, of the Iraqi Democratic Congress, sounded willing to face the difficulties and learn the political ropes, with an eye on eventually loosening the major parties grip on power.
Yes, they may be terrible elections, and the next ones will be terrible too, he said. But one day theyll improve.
Counterterror specialists look for ``chatter'' in Islamic extremist circles preceding an attack. There is a lot of chatter going on today in Washington -- only this time, it is about an American attack on Iran.
In seminars and hallways, there is eager anticipation of an airstrike against Iran's nuclear facilities. Sure, the talk goes, we may not get all those buried nuclear labs. But a few waves of cruise missiles and bombers will set Iran's program back several years, enough time to pursue regime change in Tehran.
The Iran buzz is loud enough to have prompted an unusual statement by British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw on Thursday that any attack on Iran would be ``inconceivable.'' In a message meant for Washington and for countrymen nervous about joining yet another war, Straw added: ``I don't see any circumstances in which military action would be justified against Iran, full stop.''
Package of concessions
Straw spoke as negotiators from Britain, France and Germany were about to meet in Paris with the Iranians. The Europeans are offering a package of concessions, from trade to nuclear power plants, to get Iran to agree to an indefinite suspension of its program to enrich uranium.
The ability to enrich uranium is not in itself proof of a nuclear weapons program but it would put Iran only months away from being able to build a bomb. Iranian leaders, while denying any interest in nuclear weapons, portray the enrichment program as a matter of national security.
``The centers of global power, who wish to monopolize the entire world, are opposed to any development which helps a nation to achieve national independence, self-reliance and national strength,'' Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said at Friday prayers in Tehran.
Despite the tough talk, however, Iran's negotiators have hinted they may be ready for suspension of their program, though not indefinitely.
Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, was eagerly awaiting the outcome of those talks -- still ongoing at press time. He is currently drafting a status report on Iran's nuclear program, to be issued Nov. 12, ahead of an IAEA meeting Nov. 25. The report will confirm that Iran has been experimenting with all phases of the nuclear fuel cycle but that there is still no concrete evidence of a link to a weapons program.
Bush administration hard-liners are dismissive of ElBaradei and of the European-led talks. They expect the talks to fail -- while refusing repeated entreaties from ElBaradei and the Europeans to directly engage the Iranians. They aim to head to the United Nations Security Council to impose sanctions against Iran.
But the case against Iran is far from clear and unlikely to gain full support, including from Russia and China. If the sanctions bid fails however, those Bush officials will argue that the United Nations has once again wilted in the face of a proliferation threat, a la Iraq.
ElBaradei continues to trust President Bush's assurances, given to him personally, that the United States sees only a diplomatic solution to this problem.
But he did not hesitate, in an address delivered Thursday to Stanford University's Center for International Security and Cooperation, to draw sharp lines with the Bush administration. ...
DANIEL SNEIDER is foreign-affairs columnist for the Mercury News. His column appears on Sunday and Thursday. You can contact him at email@example.com.
7 November 2004
Iran's negotiator, Hossein Mousavian, at talks in Paris says terms of the deal must still be approved by his nation as well as the three EU members - Britain, Germany, France. If accepted, he says the deal could be officially announced in a few days.
The agreement may avert a showdown expected later this month (November 25), when the International Atomic Energy Agency meets to decide on possible sanctions against Iran.
European countries say Iran must suspend its uranium enrichment program that can be used in both energy production and bomb making. Iran insists its nuclear program is peaceful, but the United States has accused it of running a secret atomic weapons program.
Irans nuclear program technically irrevocable: MP
Tehran Times Political Desk
TEHRAN (MNA) - MP Heshmatollah Falahatpishe said here Sunday that Irans nuclear program is technically irrevocable.
The Islamic Republic can now be considered as one of a handful of countries that possess a nuclear fuel cycle, Falahatpishe told the Mehr News Agency.
Referring to efforts by the U.S. to approve a second protocol to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) on depriving countries that lack a nuclear fuel cycle from gaining access to this technology, the MP said that the U.S. intends to test this protocol for the first time on Iran.
Pointing to Washingtons strong pressure on Europe in its nuclear negotiations with Iran, he said Britain, Germany and France need to gain the U.S. approval in order to meet their commitments in practice. The EU trio failed to abide by the commitments made at the Tehran agreement because they have not received an approval from the U.S., he commented.
Over these years Europe has lost many interests in Iran because of the U.S. sanctions, however, it will not allow such an issue to happen again and will therefore continue to negotiate with Iran until a final settlement is made, he explained.
Member of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee predicted that Europe will probably not sidestep further negotiations with Iran. The European states should reach an agreement with Iran that would be defensible against the U.S. in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors session, he noted. On recent news over a proposed draft bill on banning production of nuclear weapons, the MP said I have not personally seen the (draft) bill but (I) believe our experience, commitments, conventions and Islamic and humane beliefs are strongly opposed to the production of nuclear weapons, and therefore we are needless of such a law.
He further warned that raising such issues would only prop up doubts on Irans nuclear program expressed by the West.
Falahtpishe strongly criticized the initiators of the inexpert proposed bill and their attempt in collecting signatures for the plan during the Majlis holidays. -Iran-EU talks positive
Meanwhile MP Hamid Reza Hajbabayi said that Irans delegation in Vienna has made positive negotiations with the European sides.
The only way to move forward is a show of flexibility on the side of Europeans, Hajbabayi told the MNA.
He added that the negotiations will reach a deadlock if the European countries dont back from their proposal that Iran should maintain a sustained suspension of its nuclear enrichment program.
We had announced earlier that Irans redline in negotiations are the nuclear fuel cycle and a complete halt to uranium enrichment activities as stressed by the Supreme Leader and other relative officials, the MP said.
He further explained that Europeans want Iran to suspend uranium enrichment at the time of negotiations and without certain timing whereas Iran believes a certain period of time should be determined for suspension.
Europeans want unlimited suspension which in fact means passing Irans redlines, Hajbabayi asserted.
AP religion analyst Brian Murphy reports that tensions are rising between mainstream European society and the growing Muslim community in its midst, especially after the brutal murder of Theo Van Gogh, the Dutch filmmaker who criticized Islamic practices with regards to women. More Muslim threats against Dutch politicians followed the murder, and Europeans are beginning to ask themselves whether Muslims can ever be assimilated into their communities:
But those big issues fade on the streets of many European centers. Here even in places like tolerant Amsterdam it's often expressed as a gnawing feeling that militant factions in Islamic immigrant communities are gaining ground and chipping away at values such as free speech and secular politics.
"There is a general feeling that a social collision is becoming inevitable," said Jan Rath, co-director of the Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies at the University of Amsterdam. "People think it's been building for years and now finally coming to the surface."
The landmarks along the way included the 1989 death threat "fatwa," or religious edict, against British writer Salman Rushdie for alleged insults to Islam in "The Satanic Verses," the rise of neo-Fascist movements, the assassination of Dutch anti-immigrant politician Pim Fortuyn in 2002 and France's ongoing showdown with Muslims over a ban on headscarves and other religious apparel in schools.
"My impression is the European voices that say, `Everyone is equal, but we are more equal than Muslims,' are growing," Rath said.
Curiously, we seem to have avoided the same kinds of confrontation with Islam in America that the Europeans have experienced, probably because the immigration levels have not been as heavy here. But I think there may be other reasons as well, having to do both with the relative lack of the nanny state and a tradition of religious freedom. For all of the talk about how Bush's election victory portends the establishment of Jesusland, the truth is that America has always been more welcoming of all religious faiths and has been less bound by religious traditions, and especially sectarian conflict, than Europe.
Europeans have faced off against Muslim invasions in centuries past, and Muslims still carry the memories of Islamic ascendancy on the Continent. That history drives the conflict in the Balkans to this day, and the long memory of Islam guarantees that any co-existence with Christian or secular Europe will necessarily be an uneasy one at best. With extremists and terrorists calling for the reconquest of Andalusia and Muslims agitating for their own European state in Kosovo and elsewhere, both sides have awoken to the fact that Islam is not about free assimilation with other cultures.
What lessons can America learn from this? Bear in mind that Islam never had any foothold in the Western Hemisphere, and so the historical issues that cause so much turmoil in Europe have no counterpart here. However, until mainstream Islam speaks out against such ambitions and tactics with a strong and clear voice -- which they have yet to do -- we should monitor our own immigration policies from Islamic nations and ensure that we do not have our own flood of agitators to band together and cause civil disruption.
The Muslims that emigrate here tend to do so because they work for a living, as we lack the vast social programs of Europe and survival requires hard work. That tends to turn people pragmatic instead of giving them too much time to radicalize and organize. It probably also attracts those Muslims more inclined to working hard instead of rabble-rousing. We need to maintain those policies while keeping a close eye on those we allow to migrate to the US. For Europe, that option closed many years ago, and now they have to decide whether to cut off immigration altogether or to surrender to the inevitable overwhelming influence of Islam in two or three decades.
The only long-term solution that ensures the peace and stability of all these regions, Southwest Asia included, is the reduction of radicalism through the introduction of truly representative democracies in Arabia. Only by reducing the radical fervor at its source will Europe be secure in the long run. Shortsightedness, America-envy, and a twisted sense of political correctness -- along with a healthy dose of plain, old-fashioned cowardice -- keeps the old guard of Europe from seeing this. Until Europe as a whole develops the political will to solve the illness instead of decrying its symptoms, the murder of Theo Van Gogh will just be the first in a long string of asymmetrical attacks on Europe's will to resist the ummah and the dhimmitude radical Islamists have planned for them.
The last moments of Theo Van Gogh at the hands of an Islamofascist killer creates an interesting portrait of our times. The name 'Van Gogh' is synonymous with Western culture, tied to an era that some argue was the greatest period of art in the West, with much Eastern influence. And in 2004, Vincent Van Gogh's great grandnephew, having made a film about how women are mistreated under Islam, is shot repeatedly, then stabbed.
Theo Van Gogh's last piteous pleadings before his Islamic killer might very well be the words of modern Europe grappling with its rising tide of Muslims on the Old Continent: "Don't do it. Don't do it. Have mercy. Have mercy!"
It's hard to read about Van Gogh's fate and not draw a symbolic parallel between his death and the decline of Europe as a whole. The death of Van Gogh at the hands of a jihadist---in Amsterdam, no less---underscores the cultural divide that socialist European nations are nurturing while in their quest to keep Europe safe for Muslims. Van Gogh was a filmmaker and columnist who appears to have epitomized a secular, post-modern liberal view of the world. He spared no religion his derision; he once mocked a prominent Dutch Jew, referred to Jesus as the rotten fish of Nazareth, and called a radical Muslim politician Allah's pimp. All three Abrahamic religions received his wrath, rightly or wrongly. But only one broke out the koummya and sliced his throat.
Perhaps a state funeral is in order, to lament Europe's passing. Theo Van Gogh the Younger might have been an opinionated, unbridled and uncouth liberal art lunatic who needed to know his limits with Islamofascism's medieval sensibilities; or he might be a hero and martyr to what's left of an enlightened Europe, in a steep decline. Or perhaps he was simply both.
Rest in Peace, Theo.
From Zacht Ei, an interview with a Muslim from Amsterdam, following a sermon in which the imam of a local mosque denounced the Islamic assassination of Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh: Murder is normal.
Third man: This man (the imam) has given his personal response. Hes not expressing everyones point of view. I say, if he (Mohamed B., the murderer) wouldnt have done it, I could have done it, or somebody else would have done it. Because, that man (Van Gogh) went too far. He had all the possibilities.
Interviewer: You mean, its self-evident that it has happenend?
Third man: Its very self-evident. He had his freedom of speech, but he has never tried to start a discussion or debate. He called Muslims goat f-ckers. He received all attention to express that Muslims...
Interviewer: So the murder was in fact a just act?
Third man: Thats my opinion. Not everybodys opinion, but thats my opinion. It is just.
Interviewer: But you do agree this doesnt fit the way we think in the Netherlands?
Third man: Its not about the way we think. Im married myself to a Dutch woman. I have five children who have been raised here in the Netherlands. If you try to insult their mother, then this reaction is very normal.
Interviewer: But dont you think that murder cant ever be considered normal?
Third man: Murder is normal. Why wouldnt murder be normal? What happens in Iraq? What do the Americans do to the Iraqis? Did the Iraqis ask for that? Thats murder as well, and everone has accepted that. Everyone thinks thats deadly normal.
From Expatica, with thanks to the Constantinopolitan Irredentist:
AMSTERDAM Dutch media's attention turned on Friday to profiling the suspected killer of filmmaker Theo van Gogh, with one report claiming Mohammed B. was a "dream candidate" for extremist Jihad recruiters.
Newspaper Trouw said second-generation Moroccan immigrant youths are being targeted by Islamic extremists who hope to recruit them for Jihad, or holy war.
One of the characteristics of the recruiters is that they isolate youths from their family and friends. There was nothing out of the ordinary with Mohammed B. until he allegedly fell into the hands of extremists.
B. reportedly became strongly religious in 2003, and as a fundamentalist Muslim he was a target for jihad recruiters. Extremists look for Muslim youths from second-generation immigrant families who speak Dutch well and are well educated.
The perfect candidate would be going through an identity crisis with little hope in society. They would, for example, have a criminal record. They would also have strong views about the oppression of Muslims....
B. had also carried out volunteer work for some time for the Stichting Eigenwijks, an organisation of co-operative residents in Amsterdam Slotervaart.
But B. started placing increasing demands on his work situation in view of his faith, eventually making it impossible for him to continue working for the foundation, newspaper De Telegraaf reported.
The foundation said B. refused to serve alcoholic drinks, and his opposition to being involved in activities where both men and women were present was eventually considered "incompatible" with his function. The foundation and B. decided to part ways.
Eigenwijks helped a group of youths from Overtoomse Veld in Amsterdam to set up a workgroup in 2001. The group was concerned with the lack of adequate solutions put forward after Moroccan youths sparked riots in the suburb in April 1998.
The workgroup successfully involved youths in a series of activities, and B. was instrumental in the group's work. He was also part of the editorial team of the neighbourhood newspaper Over 't Veld.
Eigenwijks which said it would be closely involved in repairing community damage inflicted by Van Gogh's murder said it had regretted the fact that B. stopped working with the workgroup as he applied himself further to his faith. He "slowly ended all other social activities".
Just wanted you to know I'm praying for our friend. Call me and let me know how it's going. Kev Humiston says hi.
No problem. I actually had a thought that your friend may need to hear about Him somehow. Maybe tell him that he's covered by others praying. Maybe you have. Let me know.
I have a question.
Are they any freedom fighters groups inside Iran ?
If so, are they fighting the gov't and are they being supplied by any country out there ?
I hope so....
It's time we take the fight inside Iran via freedom fighters, and special operations
Iran appeared yesterday to have reached a tentative deal with Britain, France and Germany that would avert the threat of United Nations sanctions over its nuclear programme.
The provisional agreement, hammered out during two days of talks in Paris, has still to be approved by Teheran's clerical leadership as well as by the European governments.
If approved, it would defuse the growing crisis over Teheran's ambitious atomic programme, which America and Britain believe serves to mask a secret project to build nuclear weapons.
America has long pressed for the International Atomic Energy Agency to refer Iran to the UN Security Council after a series of violations of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.
Under the deal Iran would freeze all nuclear fuel enrichment and reprocessing activities until it has reached a final agreement over economic, technological and security incentives.
As part of a final agreement Teheran would abandon any nuclear activities considered to have the potential to be "weapons-related'', diplomats said.
"The discussions were protracted and very difficult, but we reached provisional agreement on a range of issues designed to build mutual confidence and keep measures in place that both sides can develop," a Foreign Office spokesman said.
Washington wanted to send Iran's case to the Security Council after a previous agreement unravelled in summer.
Iran reneged on a pledge to stop making enrichment centrifuges - the equipment used to make nuclear fuel but which the West fears can also be used to make material for nuclear weapons. It has also defied IAEA appeals not to start producing uranium hexafluoride, the gas fed into enrichment centrifuges.
Thanks for educating us on Iran.
The U.S. and Iraq needs to help these groups in order to win the war , and free the good Iranians people from those that support terror and funds terrorists groups.
Monday, November 8, 2004; Page A21
NEW YORK, Nov. 7 -- A European deal to freeze Iran's nuclear program, provide the Islamic republic with lucrative trade incentives and avoid sanctions by the U.N. Security Council could be signed by midweek if two critical issues can be quickly resolved, U.S., European and Iranian officials said in interviews Sunday.
Iran has refused to accept a full suspension on all its nuclear-related work and wants a commitment from France, Britain and Germany that a second stage of negotiations will be wrapped up within six months. The European trio wants the later negotiations to be open-ended and expects Iran to maintain a total suspension during that process, diplomats from Britain and France said on the condition of anonymity.
If the deal goes through, European powers have promised Iran a diplomatic and economic package along with a guarantee that it will not be referred to the Security Council, where it could face sanctions.
"If this is approved by all four parties, we will witness an important change in Iran's relations with Europe and much of the international community in [the] not-too-distant future," Iranian negotiator Hossein Mousavian told Iranian television Sunday.
The Bush administration has pushed unsuccessfully for nearly two years to get Iran to the Security Council and has refused to participate in public diplomacy with Tehran. But without proof of a nuclear weapons program, or evidence that Iran is breaking international law, allies have refused to go along with Washington's strategy.
Instead, Britain, France and Germany have devoted the past year to negotiation and compromise with Iran. Talks have been rocky at times but could produce a deal within days.
If negotiations fall apart, Washington expects the Europeans to back its quest for action by the council, Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton wrote in a letter Friday to his counterparts in Paris, London and Berlin, U.S. officials said.
Much of the terms for the Euro-Iranian accord were worked out in two days of meetings that ended Saturday in Paris.
U.S. officials briefed by the three European countries said they believe the deal will go through if Iran accepts a full suspension. Currently, Iran is pushing for an exemption on an early step in the uranium conversion process.
Although the exemption would leave Iran far away from being able to make bomb-grade uranium -- and Iran has said it has no intention of doing so -- it would still get a push in that direction, said David Albright, president of the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security.
"It would still be a significant step forward and too easy for Iran to conduct the next conversion step in secret," Albright said.
U.S. officials said they will continue to lobby European allies over the next several days to push for the full suspension and an open-ended negotiating period. The officials discussed the negotiations on the condition of anonymity.
"The Iranians will have to give on the timing and the parameters of a suspension," one official said. "Our hope is that the Europeans will agree with that."
Washington also wants more aggressive U.N. inspections, to monitor Iran's compliance with the deal. Legally, Iran isn't obligated to such inspections, but in the past two years, it has granted inspectors access to enrichment facilities and military sites they asked to see.
France, Britain, Germany and Iran signed a similar deal in October 2003; it fell apart within six months, mostly because the terms of the suspension were loosely defined. Iran had also expected European help, which didn't come, in getting its file closed with the International Atomic Energy Agency.
A new deal needs to be worked out soon so the IAEA can verify Iran's suspension before the agency's board meets to discuss Tehran's case on Nov. 25. The IAEA has told parties involved that it will need at least 10 days to complete the work. ...
GOD BLESS AMERICA!
There are a few things that those who have
recently come to our country, and apparently some native Americans, need to understand.
First of all, it is not our responsibility to continually
try not to offend you in any way. This idea of America being
a multicultural community has served only to dilute our sovereignty and our national identity.
As Americans, we have our own culture, our own society,
our own language, and our own lifestyle. This culture,
called the "American Way" has been developed over
centuries of struggles, trials, and victories by millions
of men and women who have sought freedom.
Our forefathers fought, bled, and died at places such as Bunker Hill, San Juan, Iwo Jima, Normandy, Korea, Vietnam...
We speak English, not
Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, or
any other language.
Therefore, if you wish to become part of our society --
learn our language!"
"In God We Trust" is our national motto.
This is not some off-the-wall, Christian, Right Wing, political slogan -- it is our national motto. It is engraved in stone in the House of Representatives in our Capitol and it is printed on
our currency. We adopted this motto because Christian men
and women, on Christian principles, founded this nation
and this is clearly documented throughout our history.
If it is appropriate for our motto to be inscribed in the halls
of our highest level of Government, then it is certainly appropriate to display it on the walls of our schools.
God is in our pledge, our National Anthem, nearly every
patriotic song, and in our founding documents. We honor
His birth, death, and resurrection as holidays, and we turn to Him in prayer in times of crisis. If God offends you, then I
suggest you consider another part of the world as your new home, because God is part of our culture and we are proud
to have Him.
We are proud of our heritage and those who have so
honorably defended our freedoms. We celebrate
Independence Day, Memorial Day, Veterans Day,
and Flag Day. We have parades, picnics, and
barbecues where we proudly wave our flag.
As an American, I have the right to wave my flag, sing my
national anthem, quote my national motto, and cite my pledge whenever and wherever I choose.
If the Stars and Stripes offend you, or you don't like
Uncle Sam, then you should seriously consider
a move to another part of this planet.
The American culture is our way of life,
and we are proud of it.
We are happy with our culture and have no desire
to change, and we really don't care how you did things
where you came from. Like it or not, this is our country,
our land, and our lifestyle.
Our First Amendment gives every citizen the right to express
his opinion about our government, culture, or society,
and we will allow you every opportunity to do so. But once
you are done complaining, whining, and griping about
our flag, our pledge, our national motto, or our way of life,
I highly encourage you take advantage of one other great American freedom:
THE RIGHT TO LEAVE!
Another thing: To those who do complain about the usage of words like 'God' and 'American' and speaking the language of our great nation, TRY GOING TO ANOTHER COUNTRY AND SPEAK AGAINST WHAT YOU DON'T LIKE. YOU WILL MORE
THAN LIKELY END UP JAILED OR EVEN KILLED.
In America, you take your right to complain for granted.
The more patriotism that is removed from where our children
are taught, the less our children will learn about what it is
to be an American and our nation's spirit will slowly be killed.
Keep patriotism alive.
If you agree, pass this onto other Americans!
(I'M SURE YOU DO !)
It is time to take a stand!
God Bless America and our Military and Veterans!
God Bless the Iranian people. They will be free one day.
But the agreement, reached after a marathon round of negotiations in Paris between Iran and the EU troika of Britain, France, and Germany, looks unlikely to satisfy Washington and may yet fall apart.
In the third round of talks in a fortnight, it was agreed that Tehran would suspend its entire enrichment programme until a final "grand bargain" is struck between Iran and the EU, with the EU guaranteeing nuclear, political, and trade concessions to Iran in return for it abandoning its domestic uranium enrichment, the process which could deliver fissile material for warheads.
The Paris agreement represented a partial victory for the EU. Tehran has balked at insistence on "indefinite" suspension of uranium enrichment, while the Europeans demanded the indefinite freeze until "an acceptable long-term agreement" was reached.
The weekend deal, though, remains a halfway measure for the Europeans and the Americans. The three-page proposal from the EU demands that Iran should "cease to develop or operate facilities which would give it the capacity to produce fissile material, including any enrichment or reprocessing capability".
That would strip Iran of any nuclear bomb-building capacity. It is unlikely that it will agree. But European diplomats say Iran is being offered a good deal.
Tehran, by contrast, insists on its right under international treaties to develop its nuclear industry for civil purposes.
The issue is touted as one of the biggest problems for George Bush's second term.
If the Iranians have not stopped their enrichment activities by November 25, when the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency meets in Vienna, the EU troika are likely to back Washington in taking the crisis to the UN security council in New York, which could entail sanctions on Iran.
The weekend agreement may have done enough to prevent resorting to the security council. But the brinkmanship looks likely to continue. Observers in Vienna expect a strengthened Bush administration to get tougher on Iran and be less happy with European efforts to find a settlement.
Hussein Mousavian, the chief Iranian negotiator in Paris, told Iranian television yesterday that the terms agreed still had to be endorsed by the national leadership.
"If the agreement is not approved, then the talks will have failed. But I am not pessimistic," Mr Mousavian said.
The parliament in Tehran, having rushed through a bill compelling the country to press on with uranium enrichment last week, is expected this week to add a conciliatory note with a bill renouncing nuclear weapons.
Just as the talks reached a critical stage in Paris, in Tehran the visiting Chinese foreign minister, Li Zhaoxing, told Iranian leaders his country would oppose a move to refer Iran to the security council.
Mr Li talked to the British foreign secretary, Jack Straw, and the US secretary of state, Colin Powell before flying to Tehran where he told a press conference that Iran had cooperated well with the IAEA and that referring it to the UN would only complicate matters.
© 2004 WorldNetDaily.com
Iran is covertly supporting al-Qaida-aligned terrorists in Iraq, not just anti-American Shiite insurgents, U.S. defense and intelligence sources say with certainty.
The acknowledgment of the long-held suspicion as certainty raises the stakes in Iraq and the Persian Gulf as President Bush begins his second term and Iran, with its nuclear aspirations, moves to the front burner as an international crisis in the making.
According to Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin, al-Qaida-linked terrorists have been observed moving supplies and new recruits from Iran to Iraq, say the sources. While it has long been known Iran was backing the uprising led by Moqtada al-Sadr in the southern Shiite region of Iraq, the Iranian ties to Sunni Islamist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a terrorist leader who has pledged his allegiance to Osama bin Laden, has not been certain.
The development is potentially explosive given the standoff between Iran and the West over its nuclear program and the mullah regime's desire to build nuclear weapons. It was Iraq's flirtation with weapons of mass destruction and support of terrorism that provided the impetus for the U.S.-led invasion and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime.
Iran no longer even denies that elements of Ansar al-Islam, an affiliate of al-Qaida, entered the country from Afghanistan following the U.S.-led invasion of that nation in 2001. Iran claims it offered no assistance to the group.
But some senior al-Qaida operatives who were among those fleeing to Iran after the Afghanistan war may have developed a working relationship with the Revolutionary Guards, a special military unit in Iran linked to Tehran's mullah government, say U.S. military and intelligence sources.
The 9-11 commission also found contacts between Iranian security officials and senior al-Qaida figures and found evidence that eight to 10 of the Sept. 11 hijackers passed through Iranian territory.
Iraq and Iran share an 800-mile border. U.S. officials say terrorists who cross over into Iraq from Iran most often head for Mosul, the largest Arab Sunni Muslim city in the north and an area where Islamic extremist groups are powerful. Others have been tracked going to Fallujah, now surrounded and sealed off by U.S. Marines who are expected to storm the city at any moment.
Links between Iran and al-Qaida are nothing new, however, the fact that the connections are now being taken seriously by U.S. senior officials who recognize the impact they are having on the ground in Iraq is explosive.
Other U.S. intelligence officials said there is also evidence Iran is linked to the Sept. 11 attacks. According to the officials, two of the hijackers, Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar, who were aboard the aircraft that hit the Pentagon, had stayed at the Iranian ambassador's residence in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, before entering the United States in January 2001.
MacEachin disclosed that the Iran-al-Qaida ties were revealed in the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers residence complex that housed U.S. military personnel in Saudi Arabia. The bombing killed 19 Americans.
U.S. intelligence agencies mistakenly assumed then that, since a Shiite group was involved, rival Sunnis were not, he said. That's a mistake senior defense and intelligence officials are no longer making.
Iran's links with al-Qaida go back to at least 1995 when an Egyptian members of bin Laden's group, Mustafa Hamid, visited Tehran. He is believed to have met with representatives of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards to discuss cooperation cooperation that now appears to be a matter of fact.
Between the middle of 1996 and the end of 1998, 10 percent of all of bin Laden's outgoing satellite phone calls were to Iran, say U.S. sources.
In October 2000, Ali Muhammad, in testimony before the Southern District for New York federal court, described setting up meetings in the early 1990s between bin Laden and Imad Mughniyeh of Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed terrorist group.
Bin Laden's No. 2 in al-Qaida, Ayman al-Zawahiri, was the long-time leader of Egypt's Islamic Jihad, which had extensive ties to Iran. Al-Zawahiri traveled frequently to Iran in the 1990s, and he is believed to have been one of the masterminds of the Sept. 11 attacks.
According to a European intelligence official, Mughniyeh, who reports directly to Iranian intelligence, met in Mashad, Iran, with a senior Iranian intelligence official and a "top deputy to Saddam Hussein in charge of intelligence matters," to discuss cooperation with bin Laden. This meeting reportedly took place the month after the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the U.S.
President Bush warned that any nation cooperating with al-Qaida would become an enemy of the U.S. In fact, in 2002, he singled out Iran for special attention.
"(Iran) must be with us or against us in the war against terrorism and make no attempt to destabilize the interim Afghan government," he said. "Iran must be a contributor in the war against terror; our nation and our fight against terror will uphold the doctrine, either you're with us or against us; and any nation that thwarts our ability to rout terror out where it exists will be held to account, one way or the other. ... If they (Iranians) are trying if they in any way, shape or form try to destabilize the government (of Afghanistan), the coalition ... we'll deal with them, in diplomatic ways, initially."
U.S. officials in the Pentagon and intelligence services are now convinced Iran is actively undermining the occupation of Iraq and doing so through direct collaboration with al-Qaida forces.
CNS Research Story
Bushehr Satellite Photo [Src: Space Imaging]
By Sammy Salama and Karen Ruster
At a time when Iraq and the war on terrorism tend to dominate the debate on international affairs, the possibility of an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities has not been a major topic of discussion in the United States. There are reports, however, that the Bush administration has seriously considered this option but opted to put it on the back burner for the time being. Further, on May 6, 2004, the U.S. House of Representatives passed Resolution 398 in a 376-3 vote, calling on the U.S. government "to use all appropriate means to deter, dissuade, and prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons." If a similar resolution passes the Senate, it will give President Bush or any future administration the ability to launch a preemptive strike on Iran's nuclear facilities whenever this is deemed necessary.
In Israel, planning and rhetoric appear to have progressed quite a bit further; it appears that some in Israel are seriously considering a preemptive attack similar to the June 1981 attack on Osirak that destroyed Iraq's nuclear reactor. Meir Dagan, the Chief of Mossad, told parliament members in his inaugural appearance before the Israeli Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that Iran was close to the "point of no return" and that the specter of Iranian possession of nuclear weapons was the greatest threat to Israel since its inception. On November 11, 2003, Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said that Israel had "no plans to attack nuclear facilities in Iran." Less than two weeks later however, during a visit to the United States, Israel's Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz stated that "under no circumstances would Israel be able to tolerate nuclear weapons in Iranian possession" and just six weeks earlier, Mossad had revealed plans for preemptive attacks by F-16 bombers on Iranian nuclear sites. This report will examine the following: The Iranian nuclear facilities most likely to be targeted and their proliferation risk potential; the likely preemptive scenarios involving Israel or the United States; and the possible consequences of any preemptive action.
Current Status of Iran Vis-à-Vis the IAEA
On December 18, 2003, Iran signed the NPT (nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) Additional Protocol on Nuclear Safeguards, according greater access and the possibility of intrusive inspections to Iran's nuclear facilities by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Since then, IAEA inspectors have carried out various inspections all throughout Iran that revealed a lot of new information about the scale and history of the Iranian nuclear program. While Iran has in general been forthcoming and helpful to the IAEA, some issues remain outstanding. Some IAEA board members, primarily the United States, have accused Iran of pursuing an underground nuclear weapons program that has yet to be substantiated by IAEA inspectors. The United States argues that this constitutes a violation of the NPT and necessitates the referral of Iran's nuclear file to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). In its last resolution on Iran on June 18, 2004, the board reprimanded Iran for not providing the agency with fuller, more timely, and more proactive cooperation; specifically Iran postponed mid-March visits to a number of locations involved in Iran's P-2 centrifuge enrichment program. In addition, while Iran claims that it has furnished the IAEA with relevant information in a timely and responsible manner, the IAEA deplored Iran's omission of any reference in its October 21, 2003 declaration of it possession of P-2 design drawings, research, manufacturing, and mechanical testing activities. The IAEA also called on Iran to "be proactive in taking all necessary steps on an urgent basis to resolve all outstanding issues" including issues related to LEU and highly enriched uranium (HEU) contamination and the limited production of polonium-210 and plutonium.
IAEA director Mohamed El-Baradei is all too aware of the current dilemma with regard to Iran, and is wary of referring Iran's file to the Security Council. He fears that exerting too much pressure might well push Iran into choosing to opt out of the NPT, in which case, as he mentioned recently to a gathering of academics in Israel, "you have another North Korea." To the barrage of critics who insist that, despite the lack of proof, Iran's intentions are obvious, El-Baradei has decried the lack of a "smoking gun" providing evidence of Iran's engagement in a nuclear weapons program. As he stated, "We are not God. We cannot read intentions." Iran continues to assert that its nuclear program envisages peaceful applications only, and El-Baradei continues to support a diplomatic solution to the situation. In addition, Russia, which is currently building the Iranian Bushehr reactor, has been unequivocal in its opposition to UN sanctions on Iran, especially in the absence of concrete evidence of a weapons application. Russia has asserted complete Iranian disclosure, despite Putin's recent charge of bad faith on the part of Iran in its failure to comply with IAEA inspections.
Iranian Facilities Likely To Be Targeted in a Preemptive Strike
Bushehr is a complex of light water reactors located on the Persian Gulf southwest of Isfahan. Construction started in mid 1975 under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Following the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini deemed nuclear weapons research un-Islamic and ordered the project shut down. In 1995, however, Tehran signed an $800 million deal with Russia to complete the construction of the Bushehr reactor. Bushehr is a 1,000 MW reactor, expected to be operational by 2005. The contingent of Russian experts and workers at the facility is currently estimated at around 300 persons from among a 900-person strong workforce.
During talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in early July 2004, El-Baradei basically concurred with the Russian assessment and Iranian claims, stating that "Bushehr is not apparently at the center of international concern because Bushehr is a project to produce nuclear energy." El-Baradei also praised Russia's resolve to get its spent fuel back from Bushehr. Russia intends to provide fuel to Bushehr after it reaches an agreement with Iran to secure the return of all spent fuel. From a nonproliferation standpoint, Bushehr is not currently a major concern as long as it is open to intrusive IAEA inspections and the spent fuel is returned to Russia, but this arrangement may change in the future. Iran has stated that in the long term, it intends to produce its own fuel for Bushehr. Without consistent intrusive inspections and verifications, there is a potential proliferation problem if spent fuel rods from Bushehr can be diverted to secret undisclosed facilities for plutonium production. Once enough plutonium has been produced, Iran could build nuclear weapons in a short time.
Natanz is a nuclear facility, the previously secret existence of which was disclosed by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) an Iranian opposition group in August 15, 2002. Satellite imagery made available in December 2002 indicated that Natanz may be used as a gas centrifuge facility for uranium enrichment. Iran subsequently invited IAEA inspectors to visit the facility under construction at Natanz in early 2003. During a February 2003 visit, Iran advised IAEA chief Mohamed El-Baradei of the near-completion of a uranium pilot fuel enrichment plant (PFEP) and continuing construction of a large fuel enrichment plant (FEP). Upon completion, the pilot plant will house approximately 1,000 P-1 gas centrifuges. During the 2003 visit, the IAEA inspectors noted, fully operational new centrifuges in the nuclear complex and the IAEA reported the possible presence of HEU at the PFEP facility later that year, apparently contradicting Iran's claim that it had not carried out enrichment procedures. Iran has suggested that the HEU particles that were found must have been on imported centrifuge equipment. The FEP complex is very large and being built partially underground, leading some to question its purported peaceful character. From a nonproliferation standpoint, in the absence of IAEA intrusive verifications and inspections, the facilities at Natanz can become a major concern. When completed, it is estimated that Natanz will be capable of producing weapons-grade uranium sufficient for several weapons per year, employing more than 50,000 centrifuges. Uranium extracted from mines in Yazd Province will allow Iran to be self-sufficient in its quest to produce the fuel needed to run its nuclear power stations, obviating the current need for regulated Russian nuclear fuel.
Arak is the site of two planned heavy water facilities. The first is a heavy water production facility, the existence of which was disclosed by an Iranian opposition group in August 2002. When IAEA inspectors visited the site in February 2003, Iran claimed that it planned to produce heavy water for export to other countries. Three months later, Iran clarified that it intends to use the heavy water to moderate a prospective heavy water research reactor in Arak. The second facility is a 40 MW heavy water reactor, which Iran announced its plans to start building in 2004. This plant may present a serious nonproliferation challenge when completed. The Arak heavy water reactor will use uranium dioxide and enable Iran to produce plutonium suitable for nuclear weapons assembly. Some estimate that this plant will be able to produce 8 to10 kilograms of weapons-grade plutonium every year, a sufficient amount to build one to two nuclear weapons annually. The Iranians claim the plant is for peaceful purposes only and is intended for medical research and development.
A Preemptive Attack on Iran Compared to the Osirak Example
On June 7, 1981, in a surprise air attack the Israeli Air Force using F-15 and F-16 fighter jets destroyed the Iraqi Osirak nuclear reactor located 30 kilometers South of Baghdad.
If Israel were to decide to act alone and attack Iran's nuclear facilities, it would face a greater challenge than it did with Osirak. Natanz, Bushehr, and Arak are much farther away from Israel than Osirak. Moreover, these facilities are located hundreds of miles from each other, which makes them more difficult to attack simultaneously. Yiftah Shapir, an Israeli analyst, explains: "Israel's options to counter the threat are limited. A preemptive strike against Iran's missile or nuclear assets is problematic because the targets are too far away, too numerous and dispersed, and too well protected - some of them in deep underground installations." Furthermore, it is unlikely that Israel would receive permission from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, or Jordan to pass through their airspace en route to Iran. Due to widespread domestic opposition, Turkey denied the United States use of its territory in the attack on Iraq despite large financial inducements. It would be difficult for the Turkish government to justify cooperating with an Israeli attack on another Muslim country. The Saudi government is currently in a severe struggle with domestic militant Jihadi elements who deem the al-Saud ruling family Western lackeys and infidels. Under these circumstances, it would be very difficult and dangerous for the Saudis to grant Israel permission to overfly their airspace to attack Iran, given its potential to further destabilize their domestic security position. The Jordanian regime is in a position similar to Saudi Arabia, although it has usually been more accommodating of Israeli needs. Should Israel use the Jordan route to Iran, it would have to overfly Iraqi airspace, which is controlled by the United States. For the United States to agree to allow Israeli overflight of Iraqi airspace en route to Iran would necessarily be seen as equal American complicity in the attack.
Another possible scenario is a U.S. attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. U.S. forces have at their disposal a very impressive array of smart bombs and guided munitions, as evidenced during the "Shock and Awe" campaign in the first few days of Operation Iraqi Freedom. A U.S. attack on Iran's nuclear facilities, using an array of Tomahawk cruise missiles and/or guided munitions from stealth bombers would surely be much more effective than anything Israel could muster at this point. It is difficult, however, to estimate the likely extent of damage to Iranian installations, given that the more sensitive portions of these facilities were built underground - specifically to guard against a destructive attack. In addition, Iran has purchased and deployed advanced Russian air defense systems to guard these nuclear facilities. Since 1993, Iran has purchased an unknown number of S-300PMU-1 missiles from Russia, and in 2003-2004, Iran and other Middle Eastern nations have purchased additional quantities of the Russian made S-300. These last shipments may have included the more advanced S-300V.
Consequences of an Attack on Iran's Nuclear Facilities
Effect on Iran's Nuclear Program
Contrary to popular belief, it appears that Israel's attack on Osirak in June of 1981 did nothing to hinder Iraq's nuclear aspirations. Although it temporarily set back its capabilities, it served rather to reinforce and increase Saddam's desire for a nuclear arsenal. In fact, Iraqi nuclear scientist Imad Khadduri claims that Israel's preemptive strike against the French-built Tamuz Iraqi nuclear reactor, which was not really suitable for plutonium production anyway, had the exact opposite effect of the one intended: it sent Saddam Hussein's A-bomb program into overdrive and convinced the Iraqi leadership to initiate a full fledged nuclear weapons program immediately afterwards.
Khidir Hamza, another Iraqi nuclear scientist and one of the leading proponents of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, gave a near identical assessment. He told Mike Begala on CNN's Crossfire on February 7, 2003:
Israel -- actually, what Israel [did] is that it got out the immediate danger out of the way. But it created a much larger danger in the longer range. What happened is that Saddam ordered us - we were 400... scientists and technologists running the program. And when they bombed that reactor out, we had also invested $400 million. And the French reactor and the associated plans were from Italy. When they bombed it out we became 7,000 with a $10 billion investment for a secret, much larger underground program to make bomb material by enriching uranium. We dropped the reactor out totally, which was the plutonium for making nuclear weapons, and went directly into enriching uranium.... They [Israel] estimated we'd make 7kg of plutonium a year, which is enough for one bomb. And they get scared and bombed it out. Actually it was much less than this, and it would have taken a much longer time. But the program we built later in secret would make six bombs a year.
Furthermore, in his book Saddam's Bombmaker, Dr. Hamza states that following the destruction of Osirak in June 1981, Saddam Hussein decided not to repeat the mistake of concentrating all of Iraq's nuclear assets in a single declared location. With the help of the Soviets, the Iraqis embarked on a covert nuclear program that simultaneously extended and hid Iraq's uranium enrichment facilities. Many of these facilities were disguised as warehouses or schools; others were hidden behind farmhouses - all of which was aimed at confusing the IAEA inspectors and preventing them from discovering Iraq's true nuclear potential.
It was Saddam's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, compounded by the difficulty of acquiring sufficient fissile material that doomed Iraq's nuclear prospects. Prior to the invasion, Iraq's nuclear program was moving full speed ahead to produce enough fissile material for nuclear bomb assembly, assuming it could obtain enough uranium. But Iraq's invasion of Kuwait changed everything, resulting in UN Security Council Resolution 687, which banned Iraqi possession of any WMD programs. Iraq's defeat in the 1991 Gulf War, in addition to more than a decade of UN sanctions and inspections, virtually stripped Iraq off its nuclear technology gains and bomb-making ability.
With regard to Iran, there is no reason to believe that an attack on the facilities in Bushehr, Arak, or Natanz would have any different consequence than the Osirak example. Such an attack would likely embolden and enhance Iran's nuclear prospects in the long term. In the absence of an Iranian nuclear weapon program, which IAEA inspectors have yet to find, a preemptive attack by the United States or Israel would provide Iran with the impetus and justification to pursue a full blown covert nuclear deterrent program, without the inconvenience of IAEA inspections. Such an attack would likely be seen as an act of aggression not only by Iran but most of the international community, and only serve to weaken any diplomatic coalition currently available against Iran.
The most troubling aspect of such a scenario is that, unlike Iraq in 1981, Iran is not dependent on foreign imports for nuclear technology and already has available the raw materials, and most of the designs and techniques, required to pursue a nuclear weapons program. Iran has the necessary know-how and has already produced every stage of the nuclear fuel cycle. Furthermore, Iran has uranium mines in Yazd and is in the process of constructing milling plants to manufacture yellow cake uranium and conversion plants that convert it to UF6 gas. Iran has also begun manufacturing its own gas centrifuges used to enrich uranium. Even if Natanz, Arak, and Bushehr were destroyed in a preemptive strike, Iran probably has duplicate equipment that can be activated and has the know-how to produce more, to pursue a more vigorous and unabated nuclear weapons program in the long term.
Effect on Iran's Relationship Vis-à-Vis the IAEA and International Coalition
In the event of an unprovoked preemptive attack on its nuclear facilities, Iran could justifiably argue that it requires nuclear weapons to guard against aggression and protect its sovereignty, effectively announcing its intention to withdraw from the NPT and altering the current international dynamic. Especially given the recent lack of substantiation in the Iraqi WMD case, such a strike would undoubtedly result in U.S. or Israeli diplomatic isolation.
The practical diplomatic consequences of a preemptive attack in Iran are worth considering. In the aftermath of such a strike, it is highly unlikely that the United States would be able to convince members of the UN Security Council to impose sanctions on Iran. Without international sanctions, Iran will be able to allocate greater financial and human resources to its nuclear program. If the Iraqi Osirak example is any indication, the size of Iran's nuclear program would probably increase dramatically, as the Iranian government touts an expanded nuclear program as the key to deterring Iran's enemies.
As the target of an unprovoked attack, Iran gains by pointing to justifications for escaping the constraints of the NPT, therefore becoming a much greater proliferation threat. Unrestrained, the Iranians will have the means and technology to eventually manufacture gas centrifuges and mine, mill, convert, and enrich uranium. Even under IAEA intrusive inspections, Iran has assembled more than 920 gas centrifuges, 120 of which were assembled in just two and a half months, between November 2003 and mid-January 2004. To enrich enough HEU to make one nuclear bomb requires running 750 gas centrifuges for one year. If Iran seceded from the NPT, and increased the size of its nuclear program, it would be able to manufacture and assemble many more gas centrifuges, and therefore rapidly enrich uranium. Once sufficient fissile material is obtained, designing a basic nuclear warhead can be easily accomplished. In the absence of intrusive inspections or threat of UN Security Council (UNSC) sanctions, the only way to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapons capability would be to occupy Iran, a very unlikely occurrence given the serious challenges already faced by the United States in a smaller, weaker Iraq.
Effect on U.S.-Russian Relations
Attacking Iranian nuclear facilities also has the potential of igniting a diplomatic crisis between the United States and Russia. The Russian Federation is not only Iran's foremost supplier of nuclear technology and training, it is reported that hundreds of Russian scientists and technicians currently work in Bushehr. A preemptive attack on Bushehr may kill a large number of Iranian and Russian personnel; the ensuing diplomatic crisis could seriously affect not only Russian-U.S. trade but also cooperation on international matters, including the war on terrorism.
Effect on Iranian Domestic Policies
An attack on Iran's nuclear facilities that are viewed by most Iranians as a symbol of national pride and technological progress would provide the Iranian mullahs the necessary justification to intensify their crackdown on dissidents and moderates, whom the hawks are likely to brand as agents of foreign powers. It is equally plausible that, fearing such a backlash, domestic opposition forces in Iran would band together with Iran's new hawkish majority in parliament and abandon their calls and protests for reform.
Likely Responses to an Attack by Iran's Conservative Government
Unlike Iraq, which in June 1981 was in the midst of a major war with Iran and lacked the military means to retaliate for Israel's attack on its nuclear reactor in Osirak, Iran is not only capable but very likely to respond to a preemptive attack on its nuclear facilities. Various Iranian leaders have already promised very strong reactions to such an event. On July 5, 2004, during a visit to Hamedan in western Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told a crowd of thousands: "the United States says that we have endangered their interests... if anyone invades our nation, we will jeopardize their interests around the world." In December 2003, Iran's Air Force Commander General Seyed Reza Pardis, said in response to statements by Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz that if Israel attacks Iran it will be "digging its own grave." Considering the extensive financial and national policy investment Iran has committed to its nuclear projects, it is almost certain that an attack by Israel or the United States would result in immediate retaliation. A likely scenario includes an immediate Iranian missile counterattack on Israel and U.S. bases in the Gulf, followed by a very serious effort to destabilize Iraq and foment all-out confrontation between the United States and Iraq's Shi'i majority. Iran could also opt to destabilize Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states with a significant Shi'i population, and induce Lebanese Hizbullah to launch a series of rocket attacks on Northern Israel.
Immediate Iranian Retaliatory Missile Attacks and Countermeasures
Open source information suggests that currently Iran possesses more than 500 Shehab ballistic missiles. Most of these missiles are Shehab-1 and -2, with a 300- to 500-kilometer (km) range and a 700- to 985-kilogram (kg) payload. With these missiles, Iran is capable of reaching U.S. bases in Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, and Iraq. Iran is also believed to possess 25 to100 Shehab-3 ballistic missiles, displayed in a military parade marking the anniversary of the Iran-Iraq war on September 22, 2003. The Shehab-3 has a 1,300km range, a 700kg payload, and is capable of reaching Israeli cities and bases (See: Chart 1). Iran could launch dozens of these ballistic missiles in the direction of Israel; and U.S. targets in the region, over a long period, depending on the size of the Iranian arsenal, the desired severity of the counterattack, and the ability of U.S. forces to find and destroy their missile launchers.
On the one hand, the destructive potential of these ballistic missile systems should not be underestimated. Although these Scud variants are relatively inaccurate - they are certainly incapable of the pinpoint accuracy associated with U.S. cruise missiles and guided munitions - they do have much greater accuracy and higher payloads than the Iraqi al-Husseins that turned out a mediocre CEP (circular error probability) of 1 to 3km in 1991. Multiple missiles attacks on U.S. or Israeli targets carrying large warheads can potentially be very deadly, as demonstrated by an Iraqi Scud attack on barracks in Saudi Arabia in early 1991. It turned out to be the deadliest such incident of the entire war for U.S. troops, killing 28 and injuring 98.
On the other hand, even given their relative improvements in accuracy, this may be a risk that the United States or Israel would be willing to take. Administration officials may argue that it is preferable to take on Iran now, rather than allow more time to improve its existing missiles and develop the Shehab-4. In fact, some Israeli officials claim that Israel currently has the wherewithal to neutralize Iran's ballistic missile arsenal using the Arrow anti-ballistic missile system, which some Israelis claim is fully capable of defending Israel from the Shehab-3. Arye Herzog, head of the Israeli Homa Missile Defense Program at the Israeli Defense Ministry, stated on July 8, 2003: "We are fully capable of dealing with whatever the Iranians have today, which is the Shahab-3."
Chart 1: Iran's Ballistic Missile Capabilities
|Ballistic Missile System||Inventory||Range||Payload||CEP - circular error of probability||Possible Targets in the Region|
|200-300||300km||985kg||450m||U.S. bases in the Gulf:
|25-100||1,300km||700kg||190m||Israeli cities & targets:
It is difficult to assess whether the Israeli Arrow system is truly capable of neutralizing Iran's arsenal of Shehab-3 as it has yet to be battle tested. In 1991, the American Patriot system deployed in Saudi Arabia and Israel was hailed as a "Scud-Buster" and during the 1991 Gulf War, U.S. officials repeatedly claimed that it had been able to intercept and neutralize the majority of Iraqi Scud missiles launched at Israel and Saudi Arabia. However, a Congressional investigation of the Patriot's performance led by Joseph Cirincione revealed that administration claims of success were highly exaggerated for political effect and in actuality, the Patriots were less that 10% successful in intercepting Iraqi Scuds. Cirincione told 60 Minutes, "the best evidence that we found supports between two and four intercepts out of 44." More than a decade later, during Operation Iraqi Freedom, news reports reveal that the Patriot has yet to live up to its promise. Its continued inability to intercept Iraqi missiles has been compounded by its tendency to shoot down friendly allied fighter planes. Israel's Arrow system looks good on paper, and in its latest test on July 29, 2004, off the coast of California it successfully intercepted a confiscated Iraqi SCUD, but its true combat potential remains to be seen.
Destabilizing Iraq by Inducing the Shi'a to Rise Up Against the U.S. Occupation
Iran's most dangerous potential response to an American or Israeli attack on its nuclear facilities might be a serious and sustained Iranian effort to destabilize post-war Iraq. Coalition forces there have faced a deadly insurgency, primarily from Iraqi Sunnis and a small number of foreign Jihadis who have infiltrated Iraq to target Coalition forces and their allies in Iraq. Deadly suicide bombings and mortar attacks have become almost a daily occurrence, claiming the lives of hundreds of Coalition personnel and thousands of Iraqis, most of whom have been Iraqi Shi'a. The insurgents have also struck at various Iraqi officials who have cooperated with the Coalition authorities. However thus far, with the exception of the relatively marginal Muqtada al-Sadr and his followers in the Mahdi Army, the Shi'a of Iraq have taken a rather pragmatic approach to the situation on the ground. Most Iraqi Shi'a leaders and their followers opposed neither the U.S. presence in Iraq nor the overthrow of the Saddam Hussein regime. In fact, most Shi'a have shown remarkable restraint and avoided being dragged into a civil war, reasoning that the Shi'a majority will be the primary beneficiary of the popular elections scheduled for January 2005.
So far, Iran and its allies in the region have encouraged the Iraqi Shi'a to continue to show restraint and work for social stability in post-war Iraq, even in the face of what would otherwise be deemed egregious provocations, such as the bombing of Shi'a holy sites in Karbala, Najaf, and Baghdad that killed hundreds of Shi'a, including dozens of Iranian pilgrims. Many in Iran have reasoned that they will benefit greatly from a stable Iraq ruled by a Shi'a government, which will necessarily be closer to Iran by virtue of shared religious and historical affiliations. However, in the event of an attack on Iran, this calculus would likely yield to a desire for revenge. In such a scenario, Iranian Revolutionary Guards could cross the border in great numbers to promote a full-blown guerrilla war against the large U.S. presence in Iraq. Iranian intelligence agents, who are currently in Iraq in significant numbers, could provoke clashes between the U.S. forces and Shi'a majority, precipitating a general uprising against Coalition forces in Iraq. It is important to note that, unlike the foreign Salafi Jihadi fighters (a la Abu Musab al Zarqawi and his Tawhid network) who infiltrated Iraq to fight the Americans and are despised by the Iraqi Shi'a, Iranian infiltrators in Iraq are likely to be seen by Iraqi Shi'a in a very different light.
Iran's Formidable List of Allies in Post-War Iraq
Most major Iraqi Shi'a groups have considerable connections with Iran due primarily to common religious, cultural, and historical bonds. Throughout centuries of struggle against the more numerous, sometimes hostile, Sunni Arab majority in the Middle East, the Shi'a of Iran and Iraq have more often than not come out on the short end of the stick. The Iraqi Shi'a were Saddam's primary enemies and victims; tens of thousands of them were killed, imprisoned, and abused by the secular ruling Ba'ath party. Similarly, following the Iranian Revolution, Iran took the brunt of Saddam Hussein's aggression and military adventurism. In the eight-year-long Iran-Iraq war, which began with Iraq's invasion of Iranian territory in 1980, Iran suffered 500,000 to 600,000 casualties, including up to 60,000 Iranians killed by Iraqi chemical weapons. Under Ba'ath Party rule, many Iraqi Shi'a escaped Saddam's tyranny and sought refuge in Shi'i Iran. As a result, many of Iraq's leading Shi'i figures and organizations have deep roots and affiliations inside Iran.
The list of Iranian allies in Iraq is impressive. Iraq's most influential leader and the highest-ranking religious cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, is an Iranian national who has lived in Najaf, Iraq for most of his professional life. Since the fall of the Ba'ath regime, al-Sistani has wielded remarkable influence over the Iraqi Shi'a population who see him as "marjaa` al taqlid," their highest religious authority and the leader worthy of emulation. In January, when Sistani called on Iraqi Shi'a to undertake peaceful demonstrations demanding immediate free elections, in the absence of UN verification, tens of thousands of Iraqi Shi'a poured into the streets of Baghdad, Basra, Karbala, and Najaf. This forced the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) to request that the United Nations send a delegation to convince Sistani that Iraq was not ready to hold elections before 2005. The CPA also had to invite the United Nations to participate in the selection of an Interim Iraqi Government and promise the Iraqi Shi'a free and direct elections by January 2005 as demanded by Grand Ayatollah Sistani.
One of Iraq's two most popular Shi'i organizations, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) headed by Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, was founded by his brother Ayatollah Mohammed Baqr al-Hakim in Iran in the 1982; its military wing, the Badr Brigade, was trained by Revolutionary Guards in Iran. The Dawa party, founded in the 1950s, is the oldest of all Iraqi Shi'a parties in Iraq. This group achieved prominence in the 1970s by targeting and attacking Saddam's regime. Due to the ensuing suppression of the Dawa party, many of its members left Iraq and established two main factions, one located in Iran and the other in London. The Iran-based faction, "Islamic Dawa," participated in the founding of the SCIRI in Tehran in 1982.
Members of the Iraqi National Congress (INC) once favored by the Americans, including Ahmad Chalabi, have turned out to have very strong connections to the Iran. In the last few months, various reports have alleged that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has hard evidence that INC officials, including Ahmad Chalabi and his intelligence chief, Aras Karim Habib, passed sensitive information about U.S. military operations in Iraq to Iranian intelligence, including the breaking of Iran's intelligence communication codes. Indeed, some U.S. intelligence officials claim that Aras Habib has been an Iranian agent for years and was part of an elaborate Iranian plan to provide inaccurate intelligence on Iraqi WMD to encourage the United States to overthrow Saddam Hussein, Iran's greatest enemy.
According to an intelligence source in Washington, "it's clear that the Iranians had us for breakfast, lunch and dinner... Iranian intelligence has been manipulating the US for several years through Chalabi." This view was seconded by Larry Johnson, former senior counter terror official at the CIA and the State Department, who added: "When the story ultimately comes out we'll see that Iran has run one of the most masterful intelligence operations in history. They persuaded the U.S. and Britain to dispose of its greatest enemy." In recent weeks, the U.S. Justice Department has launched an investigation into the dealings of the Ahmed Chalabi and his associates, specifically to discover whether American secrets in Iraq were compromised for Iran's benefit. U.S. and Iraqi forces raided his house in Baghdad and are still looking to arrest Aras Habib. Dr. Chalabi and his associates deny any wrongdoing and claim that the Central Intelligence Agency is setting him up.
Regardless of the veracity of these accusations, it is evident that many in the INC have had very close relations with the Iranian government and whereas Iran's list of allies in post-war Iraq is growing apace, the list of American allies is growing thin. While most of these Shi'i organizations actively or passively supported the overthrow of Saddam's secular regime, it is not likely that any of these groups would side with the United States in the event of an attack on Iran. After all, Iran has shielded, supported, and nurtured these organizations for decades, since long before anyone in the West showed any sincere interest in the welfare of the Iraqi Shi'a or their liberation from the Ba'athist yoke.
Ironically, Muqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army are not traditional allies of Iran; Sadr has been vociferous in his opposition to Iranian influence in Iraq. Muqtada al-Sadr is the son of the late Muhammed Sadiq al-Sadr who was killed by Saddam in 1999, and is a relative of the former Grand Ayattolah Mohammad Baqr al-Sadr. The young and inexperienced Muqtada favors a more "nativist" approach to Shi'i rule in Iraq, and previously called on the Iran-born al-Sistani and Iran-supported al-Hakim to leave Iraq. However, ever since the CPA shut down his Hawza newpaper and issued a warrant for his arrest for the killing of Abd al-Majid al-Khoei a rival Shi'i cleric, Sadr and his Mahdi Army militia have been involved in various clashes with Coalition troops around Iraq.
In the event of an American or Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities, it is likely that Iran would attempt to take advantage of its extensive list of allies in Iraq to further sour the U.S. occupation and provoke clashes between U.S. troops and Iraqi Shi'a, which may well result in a popular Iraqi Shi'a uprising against the American presence in Iraq. In such an event, American casualties and costs would multiply exponentially as Iraq further disintegrates into Lebanon-style violence. Such developments would prove disastrous for U.S. interests in the Middle East and negate any perceived or actual benefits that may be gained from destroying Iran's nuclear facilities. The fact is that the strategic usefulness of a successful preemptive attack on Iran's nuclear facilities is likely to be short-lived if the United States gets further bogged down in Iraq.
Fool's Gold - The Limits of Military Success in Recent Middle Eastern History
Israel's Remarkable Air Force Victory Over Syria in 1982
Middle Eastern history is rife with examples of the short-lived usefulness of overwhelming military successes. None may be more relevant than Israel's stunning victory over Syrian troops during the onset of "Mivzaa' Shlom Hagalil," Israel's invasion of Lebanon. In the period June 6-11, 1982, the Israeli Air Force scored one of the most impressive military achievements in the history of modern warfare. Within a matter of hours, the Israeli Air Force annihilated Syria's surface-to-air missile batteries in the Beka'a Valley and downed 25 Syrian fighter planes. Over the next few days, the Israelis virtually decimated the Syrian Air Force by shooting down a total of approximately 80 Syrian fighter planes, without a single Israeli casualty. The first few months of the Israeli invasion were very favorable to the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces), who where able to force their way north to Beirut while overpowering Syria's troops in Lebanon and compel Palestinian Liberation Organization guerrillas to accept an American-brokered cease-fire plan that included the relocation of all Palestinian fighters to Tunisia.
Syria's Revenge in Lebanon & the Road to Israel's First Military Defeat
Soon after these stunning Israeli achievements in Lebanon, Israel's fortunes began to decline rapidly in the face of Syrian payback. Unable to confront Israel in a conventional military conflict due to inferior training, logistics and Soviet weaponry, the Syrian Allawi leadership embarked, with the help of Iran, on a full blown campaign to target the pro-Israeli Lebanese factions and Christian Maronite-dominated Lebanese government, while nurturing the Lebanese Shi'i militias. Shortly thereafter, on September 14, 1982, Lebanon's President and Israel's foremost ally, Bashir Gemayel was assassinated by a Syrian agent. In the following years, the Lebanese Shi'i militias headed by AMAL, Lebanese Islamic Jihad and later Hizbullah carried out a relentless guerrilla war against Israeli forces in Lebanon and their allies, including the U.S. Marines stationed in Beirut. By 1985, this guerrilla warfare waged by the Shi'i militias forced the IDF to withdraw from most of Lebanon, limiting Israeli presence to a narrow security zone in South Lebanon. By the end of the 1980s, Syria emerged as the clear benefactor in Lebanon. In 1989, Syria was recognized at an Arab League summit in Taif, Saudi Arabia, as the primary powerhouse in Lebanon by most Lebanese factions and Arab countries - and tasked therefore with disarming the Lebanese militias and restoring order at the end of the civil war in Lebanon.
In 2000, Israel withdrew from Southern Lebanon, after which Hizbullah decimated the Israeli-trained and financed South Lebanon Army. In less than three years, Israel's once promising invasion and brilliant military victory had turned into a guerrilla war nightmare, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of Israeli soldiers, more than 241 American Marines and considerable turmoil within Israeli society. It was the first humiliating defeat of Israel's once invincible military since its inception in the1940s.
By invading and occupying Iraq, the United States has inherited its own "South Lebanon" and is now responsible for managing 14 million Iraqi Shi'a. An attack on Iran's nuclear facilities has the potential for a scenario similar to the Israeli experience in Lebanon. An initial successful military operation by the United States or Israel, followed by a long and very bloody campaign by Iran to destabilize a fragile post-war Iraq, could in turn develop into a full blown confrontation between U.S. forces and the Iraqi Shi'a who account for more that 60% of Iraq's population. Such a scenario would spell disaster for U.S. interests in Iraq and the Middle East in the long-term, especially given the considerable difficulty and casualties the United States has already endured since the fall of Baghdad fighting Iraqi Sunni insurgents, foreign Salafi fighters, and members of the marginal Mahdi army.
An attack on Iranian nuclear facilities in Bushehr, Arak, and Natanz, could have various adverse effects on U.S. interests in the Middle East and the world. Most important, in the absence of evidence of an Iranian illegal nuclear program, an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities by the U.S. or Israel would be likely to strengthen Iran's international stature and reduce the threat of international sanctions against Iran. Such an event is more likely to embolden and expand Iran's nuclear aspirations and capabilities in the long term.
On Monday July 19, 2004, President Bush stated that the United States is investigating any connection between Iran and al-Qa'ida, and whether Iran played any role in the 9/11 attacks on the United States. A day before, acting CIA chief John McLaughlin told Fox News that eight of the 9/11 hijackers traveled through Iran but added, "however, I would stop there and say we have no evidence that there is some sort of official sanction by the Government of Iran for this activity." These reports come on the heels of news articles stating that the administration has examined the possibility of a preemptive strike against Iran's nuclear facilities. It remains to be seen whether the timing of these revelations is just coincidence, election year politicking, or the inception of a campaign aimed at cultivating domestic support for an attack on Iran. Whether talk of a preemptive attack on Iran's nuclear facilities is a likely scenario or just bravado and journalistic hype remains to be seen, but one thing is for certain, it would not be just another Osirak.
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EHRAN, Nov. 7 - Iran has continued its crackdown on journalists, with two arrests in the past week, and has moved against pro-democracy Web sites, blocking hundreds of sites in recent months and making several arrests.
Mahboubeh Abbas-Gholizadeh, the editor of the magazine Farzaneh and an advocate of expanded rights for women, was arrested Nov. 1 after she returned from London, where she had attended the European Social Forum.
Fereshteh Ghazi, a journalist for the daily newspaper Etemad, who also writes about women's issues, was arrested four days earlier after she was summoned to court to answer questions, said her husband, Ahmad Begloo.
Ms. Ghazi wrote a letter in support of a woman who had been sentenced to death for killing a senior security official whom the woman accused of trying to rape her.
As part of its crackdown, the government has blocked hundreds of political sites and Web logs. Three major pro-democracy Web sites that support President Mohammad Khatami were blocked in August.
A university in Orumieh in northwestern Iran shut down its Internet lab, contending that students had repeatedly browsed on indecent Web sites.
The crackdown suggests that hard-liners are determined to curtail freedom in cyberspace. Many rights advocates had turned to the Internet after the judiciary shut down more than 100 pro-democracy newspapers and journals in recent years.
The number of Internet users in Iran has soared in the last four years, to 4.8 million from 250,000. As many as 100,000 Web logs operate, and some of them are political.
The move to block Web sites has the support of a senior cleric, Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi, who declared in September in the hard-line daily newspaper Kayhan that Web sites should be blocked if they "insult sacred concepts of Islam, the Prophet and Imams," or "publish harmful and deviated beliefs to promote atheism or promote sinister books."
When the most recent wave of arrests began in September, authorities arrested the father of one Web technician, Sina Motallebi, who has taken refuge in the Netherlands. Mr. Motallebi had his own Web log and helped run one of the political Web sites. The father, Saeed Motalebi, was held for 11 days and then released.
"It seems that they do not want to deal with political figures who are behind the Internet sites and are willing to pay a price for what they are doing," said Alireza Alavitabar, a political scientist who is involved in the Emooz Web site.
"Instead they want to deprive the Web sites of their staff and the capability to run them," he said.
Hanif Mazroui, the son of a former member of Parliament, Rajabali Mazroui, was arrested two months ago. He was a computer technician who worked for the daily Vaghayeh Etefaghieh, which was shut down. He has had no job since then.
Omid Memarian, who was arrested Oct. 10, was a journalist and a well-known figure among private aid groups. He had his own Web log in both Persian and English.
Mr. Memarian tried to attend a conference on Iranian civil society in New York before his arrest. He had obtained a visa, but in Frankfurt, American authorities refused to allow him to board his flight, saying that he was on a "no-fly" list, Human Rights Watch reported. He was arrested a few days after his return to Tehran.
"They want to find out how the Web sites are run, intimidate these young people and put an end to this medium," said Rajabali Mazroui, Hanif Mazroui's father.
The judiciary is drafting a law that will define cybercrimes. The chief of the judiciary, Ayatollah Mahmoud Shahroudi, has said the law will define the punishment for "anyone who disseminates information aimed at disturbing the public mind through computer systems."
It is not clear where the arrested journalists and technicians are being held. People who have spoken to their families have not said what the charges against them are.
However, the judiciary spokesman, Jamal Karimirad, said last month that they would be tried on charges of "acting against national security, disturbing the public mind and insulting sanctities."
TEHRAN, Nov 8 (Reuters) - Iran threatened on Monday to strike back at Israel or any other country that attacked its nuclear facilities.
U.S. and Israeli officials accuse Iran of seeking to develop atomic bombs under cover of a civilian nuclear programme. Iran denies the charges saying it only intends to produce electricity from nuclear power plants.
"If Israel or any other country attacks any site in Iran, we know no limits to threaten their interests," Deputy Revolutionary Guards Commander Mohammad-Baqer Zolqadr said.
"That means anywhere in the world, within their borders or outside it," he told reporters on Monday on the sidelines of an anti-U.S. conference in Tehran.
Israeli warplanes successfully destroyed the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq in 1981. Iran has stationed anti-aircraft batteries around its nuclear plants and built many of its facilities underground.
Iranian officials have also warned they can strike back at Israel with its medium-range Shahab-3 missile, which can also hit U.S. military bases in the Gulf.
Zolqadr denied Iran was developing nuclear weapons, saying the Islamic state preferred to rely on a volunteer militia force, which he said numbered 10 million, to defend the country.
Earlier the commander addressed high-school students at a conference entitled "The World Without America".
"The world without America is a world without oppression, without terror, without invasion, without massacre," he said in a speech that catalogued U.S. "crimes" ranging from the massacre of native Americans to the atom bomb on Hiroshima.
A video clip played for the audience showed gruesome pictures of injured children lying in hospital beds in Iraq, which U.S.-led forces invaded last year.
Zolqadr said an Iraq-style invasion of Iran was out of the question thanks to Iran's growing military might.
"We have assessed the American armed forces in the wars of Iraq and Afghanistan ... they are not unknown or mystical to us any more," he told reporters after his speech.
Iranian and EU officials said on Sunday a deal had been struck between Iran, Britain, Germany and France after two days of talks in Paris that could see Tehran avert U.N. Security Council sanctions over its disputed nuclear programme.
Thank you. Am continuing to read this post thread regularly.
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